Recently, many businesses have adopted the practice of automating many processes, including customer service. These days, people can scan their groceries themselves and perform bank transactions on a smartphone, among many other daily tasks. Many businesses have also adopted automated answering services, or phone trees. However, going digital has also resulted in a lack of personal communication between businesses and their customers, and the automated phone tree can be frustrating for callers. Customers want to be able to connect to a live human being who can address specific questions and make them feel their call is important. Phone calls may now be just as an important means of communication with customers, if not more.
People are generally hesitant to leave messages
Sending a text message or an email makes it highly likely that someone will receive your message, but people also want help in real time. Recent statistics cited by the Harvard Business Review estimates that most customers will immediately end a call if they are sent to a voicemail. If someone isn’t there to personally answer their questions, callers will probably hang up and move on to one of your competitors. Therefore, small business owners might consider using a virtual receptionist to take calls when they’re unavailable to do so themselves or when they need to avoid interruptions and focus on the job at hand. The receptionist on the other end of a call can do everything to make sure the right person is in touch with the caller to answer their questions or address their needs.
It’s more personal
Although automated phone answering services seem to save money, they could potentially be harming your business. A recent article by the Harvard Business Review titled, “Your Customers Still Want to Talk to a Human Being,” outlines the reasons for which people may prefer talking on the phone over other digital means of communication. The article states, “When making a significant decision, like applying for a first-time mortgage or exploring a potential bathroom remodel, most consumers want to talk to a qualified human expert.” Being available to your customers to answer all of their questions can also help build your brand image.
It can be more reassuring
Communicating with customers via phone allows for a more organic conversation that can flow in ways that don’t happen over email or other digital channels. Being on the phone allows for follow-up questions and clarifications in real time, which can help to increase customer confidence and even foster customer loyalty. It can also help your company manage customer service correctly the first time. If a customer service representative can clarify the issue with the client while they’re on the phone, it can eliminate the need for multiple interactions.
Although automated systems and digital tools are on the rise, they can’t replace the strong need and desire for personal contact with a real person, and the phone is one of the best methods of achieving this. Don’t hang up on your customers yet, or you could risk pushing them away.
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For more tips and inspiration for small business owners, visit Small Business Pulse SF Bay Area.